Mindfulness and leadership transformation: Why they're crucial in 2021

| Business Leadership

Mindfulness and leadership transformation: Why they're crucial in 2021

Last year was a test in every sense of the word. Regardless of age, race, or even how much you’ve got in the bank, COVID-19 affected every single one of us—some more than others. For leaders, the crisis came with many learning curves and opportunities for growth. It demanded a transformation in the way we work.

Many leaders sought our support and knowledge during the pandemic. As more and more people embraced mindfulness practices, many friends reached out to me. There’s one encounter that really stands out.

An acquaintance who holds a senior position at a firm got in touch relatively early on during the lockdown. From what I’ve heard from colleagues who work with her, she’s an empathetic manager and someone with an enthusiastic spirit. COVID-19, however, was making things difficult.

She was struggling with the burden of helping her team cope with the WFH transition and many other difficulties due to the pandemic.

She had done her best to help everyone that needed her support. Soon enough and in her words, it was too much to handle. This made her feel like she wasn’t doing enough—which, as a leader is a very familiar feeling.

She explained that while she knew these thoughts were irrational, she couldn’t seem to shake off this sense of failure. I’m hoping that I helped her see that leadership isn’t about having the right answers all the time. It isn’t about being a superhero. It’s about adapting to the circumstances and changing how we perceive our growth and our capabilities.

Mindfulness, in particular, is a reminder that transformation or growth is not about adding more skills but about improving our ability to apply these skills. This is why mindfulness and leadership transformation will be crucial in 2021.

It’s a constant reminder that being a leader means you’re a work-in-progress.

A shift in the leadership skillset

The pandemic came as a learning curve. As leaders, many of us had to navigate work in a hybrid office environment. We needed to rethink how we led our teams.

In fact, Forbes recently listed out three major shifts in leadership skills during this time. They include:

  • A shift in communication towards empathy: to support employees during hard times and to be more human than a manager. To actually learn to listen.

  • The shift from emotional intelligence to emotional agility: the ability to use self-awareness and attentional control to navigate emotions and feelings. This helps us align intent with impact.

  • A change from time management to context management: to learn how to apply the techniques of working in a traditional setting to a remote setting. We need to adapt to manage context and not time.

These changes are a reminder that leaders can no longer operate on autopilot. We can’t afford to miss out on the connections with the people we work with. We can no longer make decisions with distracted minds, reacting instead of responding or initiating.

This is why mindfulness and leadership transformation is crucial in this changing work environment.

Mindfulness and leadership transformation must be deliberate

Only intentional leadership transformation can respond to the complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity that we are witnessing in the current workspace.

Your ability to respond to this disruption can’t be out of blind habit. It must be intentional and deliberate.

In the context of mindfulness and leadership development, growth is a work in progress. Growth must be continual and set in learning, which must be deliberate. This type of self-regulated growth, or as Michael likes to call it, being deliberately developmental, will not just support your growth as a leader but will also support the growth of your teams.

Mindfulness and leadership focus on becoming more mature. The more mature you become, the happier you become. This helps you, as a leader, to settle internal conflicts and to become more congruent, connected, and alive.

Leverage the link between mindfulness and leadership for genuine and effective transformation

As a leader, you never stop learning. Embracing the fact that you will always be learning is the only true transformation for a leader. It may not be easy, but it is fulfilling.

I can proudly say that without mindfulness and leadership, I would not be where I am today. Make the most of mindfulness principles, like self-awareness, to become a leader who can rise to the challenge.


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